The fear of public speaking is the #1 most common fear. About 73% of the population is affected by public speaking anxiety or glossophobia. This is more than people who are afraid of death, spiders, or heights. Now imagine speaking in front of an audience of 500 people at a wedding.
When Jeevan and Taj’s aunt was getting married, they decided to surprise her by giving a speech on her wedding day. They are very close to their aunt and wanted to do something special for her wedding. What’s surprising is that both Jeevan and Taj are very shy and have never spoken publicly. However, they have been enrolled in Genie Academy’s English Language Arts program for over a year. Mohit interviewed their mom Sharan. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Sharan: My sister-in-law was getting married. Both Jeevan and Taj have been very close to her. I suggested why don't you guys do a speech for her, and surprise her and they agreed. She would be really happy if they said something. I thought they will say one or two sentences. They wrote their own speech. They came up with the idea and wrote the speech. They went up to in front of almost 500 people.
Five hundred people?
Yeah, and they both gave the speech and they were pretty confident and she (aunt) was surprised as she had no idea.
What was her reaction?
Oh she was completely shocked. She did not expect that, as both are very shy. She didn’t think that they would do something like that. I talked to Taj a couple of days after the wedding reception. I asked ‘you were pretty good so where did you get all that confidence from?’ He said, "Genie Academy really helped me. I put my thoughts together." He said, "Ms. Tiara tells us how to put our thoughts in order and I worked on my speech. I knew I could speak standing in front of those people because Daddy was standing next to me."
Was he okay?
He was great and we were all really surprised and really happy that they actually spoke. I was kind of scared I didn’t want them to get nervous or, you know, mess it up.
What about what reaction did you get from the other guests?
They were so amazed by both of them. They came up to us even the people that we didn’t even know. They came up to us after their speech and said that they did an amazing job and you know Jeevan is tall he looks older. They kinda expect him to be ok about it, but Taj is 8 years old. Everyone was so shocked that Taj was able to get up there in front of all these people and not show any sign of being nervous at all.
That’s pretty cool. And how did you feel when it was over?
Well, I was really relieved and proud at the same time. One little girl came up to Taj and said that her Aunt told her that when she gets married she expects her to give a speech like Taj. Lots of people came up to them to compliment them on what an amazing job they had done.
One of the things we teach is public speaking. But I guess this is the first time I have heard that one of our students actually went in front of 500 people.
I didn’t say that they spoke because of Genie Academy. This is something they said themselves that is because of Genie Academy.
Sometimes I just pop into the classroom when the students are presenting what they wrote. It’s not just Jeevan and Taj. All of the kids have interesting things to say. Its amazing the thoughts and creativity they have.
I just helped them fix some minor grammar and told them to wait for people to laugh. Give them a little time, pause for a second, and give people to chance to laugh, clap, or whatever, and then you know go on from there. So yeah I mean it was all their idea, and this is a very, very proud moment.
What did your husband say?
Oh, he was so proud. Yeah, very proud. He stood next to them the whole time because he didn’t want them to get nervous. Yeah, he was definitely proud. He spoke a little bit at the wedding, he didn’t speak that much but I think the kids covered it for him.
While working on their writing skills and reading comprehension at Genie Academy, Jeevan and Taj have become more confident in public speaking. This is because our English Language Arts program has a strong public speaking component. Both of them credit Genie Academy and their Reading teacher for developing their writing skills and confidence.